Backpacking Europe is a dream of many travelers. Even though the idea of budget traveling has become popular, many people still believe Europe is expensive, and one has to have lots of money to explore it. With these ten tips for Backpacking, you’ll see how easy it can be to make the European dream come true and discover this fascinating continent without spending a fortune.
Don’t overpay for accommodation
As a backpacker on a budget, you’ve got to forget about hotels. They’re pricey in Europe, even in the cheaper countries. Hostels are way more affordable. Before you book, make sure to compare the prices, they may significantly vary. Sometimes the difference between a price offered by hostels in the city center and those located outside of it will be so big. It’ll make more sense to choose the second and buy a tourist pass for local transportation. If you’re planning a longer stay in one city, contact the hostel and discuss the cost, they might give you a discount. You may also consider using hospitality exchange, such as BeWelcome or CouchSurfing. It’s free, but remember saving money shouldn’t be your only goal and be respectful towards your hosts.
Bring a tent
Are you a nature lover? If yes, then camping might be the best option for you. Europe’s not only made of cities. This continent, even though relatively small and crowded, has lots of stunning nature begging to be explored. In most countries, campsites are standard and cheap. In Scandinavia you don’t even need a campground; it’s legal to camp for free nearly everywhere.
Sleep at the airport
Even though it doesn’t sound very appealing, sleeping at the airports isn’t as bad as most people imagine. If your flight arrives very late or departs early in the morning, spending the night at the airport is often the most reasonable solution. In a way, it’s even convenient – at least you don’t have to travel through the city in the middle of the night. When you do it, you’ll realize how many people do the same. Large airports are usually full of travelers all the time, and the staff doesn’t even get surprised when someone sleeps delightfully on a chair. There’s also a website called SleepingAtTheAirports. You can use it to find all sorts of practical information. First of all, be sure the airport you’re flying from/to is open all night long, smaller terminals are sometimes closing in the evening.
Buy food in grocery stores and cook
It depends on where exactly you’re heading to, but restaurants in most places around Europe are somewhat costly. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit them at all. You can look for those that serve local food at reasonable prices, but try to make it a special occasion. On most days, buy food in grocery shops. You can cook in the hostels or with your hosts. It’s a great chance to meet people and learn how to prepare new dishes.
Check when museums have their free days
Did you know you can see Louvre for free on every first Sunday of the month? Many museums offer free entrances on specific days. Before you buy a ticket, check it out. Just be ready to spend some time in queues, especially in famous museums.
Visit the cheap places
Everybody wants to see Paris, London, and Amsterdam. Unfortunately, these cities are just as expensive as famous. They’re fabulous too, so there’s no need to give up on them entirely. Just don’t stay there for too long. Make it two days in Stockholm and four days in Belgrade, or 1 day in Edinburgh and three days in Budapest.
Travel in the low season
When summer begins, the well-known tourist destinations become madly expensive. July and August are the top seasons in Europe, but many places are equally excellent in other months. This applies in particular to the South, where the weather stays warm for most of the year. Some people hate traveling when it’s less than 20°C, but if you’re not one of them, be adventurous and explore the winter wonderlands. Skipping the top season, besides of saving money, has one more advantage: avoiding the crowds of tourists.
Travel by overnight trains and buses
That’s another thrifty backpacker’s way of saving money on accommodation. To get from one place to another, you need a ticket anyway (unless you hitch-hike, which, by the way, is excellent and popular in most European countries). If you travel on longer routes, you may make a double use out of this ticket. Night trains and buses are safe in Europe. As for trains, you can book a place in a sleeping compartment – it’ll cost more, but can still make sense, especially if using a train was your plan in the first place. Buses don’t have the comfy sleeping compartments, so it’s less convenient but usually cheaper.
Look for cheap flights and bus tickets
You can fly from Germany to Malta for 20 Euros or from Norway to Poland for 10. With the budget airlines, flying in Europe became affordable. Take some time and look for the best deals. You won’t always find what you want, on the route you’ve dreamt of, in the time that suits you the most, but with a bit of flexibility, you can save tons of money. The same can be said about buses. Companies like LuxExpress, simply express or Eurolines offer very low prices from time to time, especially if you book in advance.
Avoid the banking fees and waiting for lines
When you’re going on a trip, you can try and estimate the approximate amount of money you will need. But if you’re going to a country you’ve never been before or you just miscalculate and require more money while you’re traveling, then it would be necessary to borrow some money. The very thought of you was waiting in line at the local banks or getting money from your credit card at the local ATMs only makes the situation worse. As the time needed to get to your “help” fund and the fees you have to cover due to the services provided or the difference in currencies are causing quite some trouble.
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